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INTRODUCTORY  ESSAY.                                     5
subject there treated of up to the present state of our know-
ledge : the difficulties have increased fourfold, from scientific
botany not having advanced pari passu with the economic
branch; and so long as the plants themselves remain unde-
scribed, it is obviously impossible to recognize what are useful,
or so to define them that they shall be known by characters
that contrast with those of the useless. Our principal aim
however being purely /j^otanical, the most insignificant and
useless weed is as much the object of our attention as the
Teak, Sal, and Tea: in the vegetable kingdom, and in the
great scheme of nature, all have equal claims on our notice,
and no one can predicate of anyr its uselessness-' in an eco-
nomic point of view.
Every one who has studied Indian plants, whether 'for eco-
nomic purposes or for those of abstract science, .must have
felt the want ot a general work which should include the
labours of all Indian botanists, to bo a very serious incon-
venience. Our own experience in India has convinced us of
this; for we found it impossible to determine the names of
many of the most ordinary, and, in an economic point of view,
often most valuable forms; and every day's additional expe-
rience in the preparation of this volume lias served to show
more and more clearly, that wld&St such a work is wanting sar
tisfactory progress is impossible. At present the student has'
to search in general systematic works, for the descriptions
of species; and as all of these are imperfect, a multitude of
scattered papers must be consulted for flic additions which
have from time to time been made. These too have unfor-
tunately so often been published without reference to preced-
ing works of. a^similar nature, that the same plaitt ha* been
described as *xew by many successive botanists, 'sjnorant or
neglectful of the labours of tfieir predecessor^.
A general flora of India must Comprise a carefti fttudy of
all previously* published materials, 6 as to blfcnd them into an
harmoniou^ whole, and to jestablish Indian, botany on a secure
basis of observation and accurate description. Such d task is,